Up to ten days for employees

Guided tours with horses in Bad Salzuflen, yoga in List or a Spanish course on Fuerteventura: employees can take up to ten paid days off for further training according to their own preferences. They bear the costs of the measure themselves.

If you are planning to take time out from your job for the current year, you could simply calculate additional days off to spend them on further training. With the exception of Saxony and Bavaria, all federal states provide this option, but only a fraction of employees in Germany actually make use of the statutory right to educational leave. According to the German Trade Union Confederation (DGB), it is only one to two percent, although around 70 percent of employees are interested in further training.

The detailed regulations on educational leave can be found in the respective state laws. The details vary and the legal designations are also different in the federal states, sometimes it means training time, educational leave or further training for employees. However, the underlying idea is the same everywhere: the principle of lifelong learning should be promoted and the personal development of employees should be supported. The legislators see the advantage for companies in increased competitiveness through qualified employees.

The employees therefore receive additional vacation days from the company for personal training, and they bear the costs of the measure themselves. Otherwise, only a few requirements have to be met to be entitled to educational leave: usually a certain period of employment, early application and a Minimum size of the company.

Don’t start with educational leave right away

New employees should not be able to start the new job immediately with personal further training, which is why the state laws regularly stipulate a minimum employment period before a measure can – and must – be approved. In many countries, it is sufficient for the employee to work for a company for at least six months, although twelve months are required in Saarland.

In addition, there are further restrictions in individual states: In North Rhine-Westphalia (NRW), for example, there is no entitlement to time off for employees in a company or office with fewer than ten employees if ten percent of the employees have already been released in the current calendar year , Section 3 (3) of the Employee Training Act (AWbG). In companies or departments with fewer than ten employees, there is no entitlement to a leave of absence in NRW. In Rhineland-Palatinate, the entitlement does not exist if the employer or employers does not permanently employ more than five people.

It is also necessary to submit an early written application to the employer: a period of at least six weeks before the start of the educational event is usual, at least that is how it is regulated in North Rhine-Westphalia, Berlin or Hesse.

The notification must be accompanied by the documents relating to the educational event; this includes proof of the recognition of the educational event as well as the program from which the target group, the learning goals and learning content as well as the timing of the event result. As a rule, the measure may only take place within a certain radius of one’s own place of work – in NRW only up to 500 kilometers as the crow flies from the state border.

There is therefore no Spanish course in Fuerteventura in NRW, but it is only recognized in the other federal states with the exception of Thuringia – and of course Bavaria and Saxony.

Hobby, fitness, relaxation exercises

In addition to language courses, the contents of the possible measures are very diverse: A course “Spring herbs with all senses” at Möhnesee, “Clear, mindful and authentic togetherness at work – a seminar with horses” in Bad Salzuflen or “Italy and Germany 1860 to 1960: From Risorgimento to the Treaties of Rome – The Italian Neorealism”: There should really be something for everyone in the range of offers.

Because the contents of the measures do not have to be related to the current professional activity. For example, according to the Berlin Education Time Act (BiZeitG), the exemption may also be used for political education and the qualification to carry out voluntary work, § 1 Para. 3 BiZeitG. As in other state laws, the concept of continuing vocational training is broadly defined there: “Continuing vocational training is intended to maintain, renew, improve and expand professional knowledge, skills, abilities and development opportunities, as well as to impart knowledge of operational and social contexts. Educational content that is not relate directly to an activity carried out are included if they can be used in the professional activity at least to an indirect advantage for the employer.”

It is necessary that the measure itself is recognized and comes from a provider who is registered as a further training provider in the respective federal state. Each federal state therefore has lists of providers who are allowed to carry them out. These are compiled online.

“Further education” is a broad term

Sometimes, however, disputes break out about the educational leave: one employee even went to court for his further training. The regional labor court (LAG) Berlin-Brandenburg finally decided that the employee must be released for a five-day course “Yoga I – successful and relaxed at work with yoga and meditation” offered by the adult education center. It is about promoting the adaptability and self-assertion of employees. According to the explanatory memorandum to the law, the concept of continuing vocational training should be understood broadly, emphasized this LAG (ruling of April 11, 2019, Az. 10 Sa 2076/18).

In another case, the LAG Baden-Württemberg made it clear that the term “political further education” should also be understood broadly. In the process, a process mechanic was granted leave of absence for a measure by IG Metall entitled “Employees in business, business and society” (judgment of 09.08.2017, Az. 2 Sa 4/17). According to the LAG, the requirements of the law for political further education are already met if information about political contexts and their opportunities to participate in political life is conveyed.

Up to ten days paid time off

Anyone who has found something that suits them can take up to ten days off work with pay: in some states – such as North Rhine-Westphalia, Schleswig-Holstein and Thuringia – the law provides for five working days per calendar year. In some cases, however, the entitlement of two years can be combined, so that the measure can then last up to ten days every two years.

In some federal states, the wording is from the outset a leave of absence of ten days within two years, such as in Rhineland-Palatinate and Brandenburg. The number of days is based on employees working a five-day week – the entitlement is reduced accordingly for part-time employees with fewer working days per week.

Which regulation is decisive in this regard is decided according to the place of work, not the place of residence of the employee.

Of course, the prices for the measure vary depending on the offer. Each participant bears the costs themselves, and these can amount to several hundred euros, especially in the case of an offer with a few overnight stays.

Since Corona, digital training is also possible

Those who are not interested in doing further training far from their own place of residence can now also use the days for digital further training. The corona pandemic had made it necessary to rethink and the providers have reacted. The NRW state government, for example, subsequently changed the underlying AWbG accordingly, initially for a limited period. Since the end of last year, the black-green state government has made the regulation permanent and permanently included the digital offers in the educational catalogue.

However, anyone who has already completed company or official further training may have to count individual days towards the entitlement to leave if the employer requests it – this is always regulated in the respective state laws. The employer(s) must regularly report such a credit.

And just as an aside: In Bavaria and Saxony, too, companies are not prohibited from giving paid leave for educational leave. However, this happens out of goodwill.